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J. Michael Straczynski leaving Superman and Wonder Woman to write Earth One sequel



That was fast

The SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE OGN has been a BIG, BIG hit for DC, topping the NY Times graphic best seller list AND the Diamond charts. So a sequel by writer J Michael Straczynski and artist Shane Davis is a no-brainer. This the DC blog announces today.

It’s too early to talk art, story or release date, but make sure to stay tuned to The Source for more info. We checked in with the DC Comics Co-Publishers, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio for their thoughts on the success of SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE.

“Joe created a Superman for the modern reader – a Clark Kent that’s conflicted and inexperienced but also focused and determined to embrace his destiny,” DiDio said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.”

However, this did not come without a price. JMS is leaving the writing reins of SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN to Chris Roberson and Phil Hester respectively.

Starting with SUPERMAN #707 and WONDER WOMAN #605, Straczynski will step back as the monthly scripter of both books, opening the door for two rising talents to step in and complete the books’ respective storylines using JMS’s story notes. Straczynski’s influence will be apparent in both titles – Superman’s Walk Across America continues, the mysteries surrounding Wonder Woman barrel toward a conclusion and in due time you’ll have a second volume of SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE to put on the shelf next to the first.

Art teams include Alan Goldman and Eddy Barrows on Supes and dandy Don Kramer on Wonder Woman. And now the truth can be told:

“I’d originally come to DC to do the Superman Earth One book which, at the time, was top secret so nobody knew about it,” Straczynski said, “and filled out on Brave and the Bold for a while to have fun and get up to speed on the DCU. When I was done with SEO I took on the Superman and Wonder Woman monthlies on the theory that I’d have time to script the full 12 issues before bounding back onto Earth One. But when the huge numbers started coming in on Earth One, and the need to fastrack the next volumes became evident in order to keep the momentum going, I knew there was no way in god’s green earth that I could write that and the monthlies simultaneously. Since DC has had my notes and outlines from day one on both titles, so they’re still my stories, it makes sense to let Chris and Phil keep going from the story beats I’ve set up. I’ll dive in on occasion as needed for important story points. It’s still my story, I’m involved in both books, and they’re going to continue in the direction we set up. I’m looking forward to seeing what Chris and Phil have in store.

“Meanwhile, I’m taking full advantage of the situation to take a one- to five-year sabbatical from writing monthlies in order to go exclusively into writing graphic novels like Superman Earth One and Samaritan X, along with the occasional high-visibility minseries. I think that’s where the business is going, and creatively, limited series and graphic novels have always been my strong suit in that they let me tell cohesive stories with a beginning, middle and end. They can also be written and drawn before anything is ever announced or solicited, as was the case with Earth One, which has been one of the greatest and most creatively rewarding experience of my career. At some point I’m sure I’ll come back to monthlies — it’s just too darn much fun — but for the next one to five years, it’s strictly GNs and miniseries, with Superman Earth One being the first priority, followed by Samaritan X.”

While this news will no doubt no nothing to detract from JMS’s rep as someone who has a short attention span (truthfully the guy had earned a reduced working schedule), the bigger story here, from where we sit, is the fact that SUPERMAN EARTH ONE has become a huge hit without any periodicals to back it up or monetize it, or what have you. And a popular writer is leaving the flagship periodicals to work on a GN.

Could be one off or….the start of a trend.

Via iFanboy


  1. >>Could be one off or….the start of a trend.

    About time. Marvel could have beat DC to it by releasing Dark Tower straight to OGN, if they hadn’t got cold feet. I never imagined DC becoming the one who takes chances.

    (I think Marvel also could’ve managed it with Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, though maybe not as high of sales as a book with Stephen King’s name on it would have.)

  2. “… the bigger story here, from where we sit, is the fact that SUPERMAN EARTH ONE has become a huge hit without any periodicals to back it up …”

    Yes, the Beat gets it quite right here. Superman: Earth One has its fans and detractors, but we can’t ignore that DC got at least three days of solid news coverage out of the book, plus #1 on the NY Times graphic novel list, plus the book appears to be sold out at Amazon. Fast-tracking the sequel, and maybe making the volumes come out more often, is a no-brainer.

    Fans already return to bookstores or movie theaters after even years-long breaks to buy get the next installment of a series; I think an ongoing fanbase for a series of graphic novels that come out once or twice a year isn’t so hard to imagine. Hopefully JMS’s reassignment will mean more Superman: Earth One books more often.

  3. I’m going to admit that I know nothing about the whole process involved with writing a comic book. But let me see if I get this straight: The Superman and Batman Earth One books were announced last year (I forget exactly when) but, according to the article, he had completed Superman Earth One before it was solicited. But at a minimum he’s been done with it for at least 4 or 5 months at a minimum so it could be penciled, inked, colored, lettered, etc…. In that time he started writing Superman and Wonder Woman, only to run into trouble on Superman and fall behind (we’ve already had 1 fill in). And as pointed out, its been like 3 months since there’s been any Brave and Bold solicted (has it been silently canceled), so I guess my point, What the hell does JMS do with his time? Think up new stories to only 1/2 tell?

  4. I think JMS was saying that OGN’s CAN be written and drawn before they are announced or solicited, but I don’t think that means that SEO necessarily was. So he might have still been working on it fairly late into the game.

  5. “the bigger story here, from where we sit, is the fact that SUPERMAN EARTH ONE has become a huge hit”

    Whoa, tiger. We have no idea how many copies it’s actually sold yet. I think for comics on the whole, it would be good if this book sells a million copies, but we won’t know that for a while yet.

    I’m just happy DC learned from the Minx fiasco, although I’m sad Minx had to go down in order for that lesson to be learned. The lesson? Don’t sink so much money into promotion that the line has to achieve blockbuster sales levels to keep the line alive.

  6. Am I completely misremembering, or wasn’t the plan as it was originally announced to do a series of ogns? So of COURSE there’s a sequel.

    I know there was an awful lot of confusion in there around that one convention where JMS seemed to make a weird announcement or something too though, and it has been a long time, so I may just be very confused.

  7. @caleb: Yes, a sequel was planned from the start. What JMS is saying here is that DC decided to move up the schedule on that sequel. The original plan was that he could finish his story on the monthlies first and then write the next OGN, but with the OGN coming sooner, he’s had to pick one or the other.

  8. I think this is great news and its about time this approach was taken to company mainstays. Just hope he still manages to fit some more Brave & Bold stories in, his run has been fantastic.

  9. That’s good for JMS I guess but that basically kills whatever momentum Superman and WW have right now with this move. Looks to me like DC saw the sales and thought that they could afford to lose him on the monthly side because the GN simply sold better. I just hope this means we can get a Green Lantern Earth One GN written by Busiek now that there seems to be a market for this.

  10. This won’t do anything to help JMS’ reputation within the fan community. (I mean, is there even one project he’s seen to completion since Midnight Nation?) But on the other hand, how much good will does he need from Jerry down at the comic shop when he’s got the attention of the entire book publishing industry.

    I will say this, though: the man knows how to market himself. This is a guy who started out writing He-Man and he eventually worked that into Babylon 5. Then, when he enters the comic book industry, he goes from writing a couple small titles to writing the sequel to probably the most prestigious project (in the eyes of the public) this year.

  11. Did JMS part on such bad terms with Marvel that he can’t provide them with “story notes” that would allow someone else to finish up The Twelve? If nothing else, I’d bet that Chris Weston would appreciate getting the opportunity to wrap up that assignment and start collecting royalties on a trade paperback edition.

  12. It is a HUGE hit. A $20 hardcover of original material. Rising as high as #20 on BN.com (among ALL books). Sold out at Amazon, a holiday title for Barnes & Noble (featured on the website and in stores), massive sales to the Direct Market with many stores selling out and Diamond out of stock, critical acclaim from the mainstream media, and impervious to the nattering nabobs of negativity online.

    The new writers get to ease their way into the series using JMS’s notes.

    Seems like a win-win.

    Question: DC rebooted Superman 25 years ago. Could SE1 become the new timeline, with the DCU-52-verse being “turned off”? Perhaps continue the monthlies as stand-alone stories, almost all inventory, to better sell the digital downloads? Maybe make them weeklies? And if someone makes it big, like a Gaiman or a Waid, you reward their talent with an OGN.

    This Earth One model avoids the pitfalls of the All-Star model. (I suspect the bookstore sales of the All-Star Batman hardcover convinced DC to launch E1.) Everything is in the can, there are no delays, promotion can be scheduled and controlled.

    Marvel has also adapted this model. Except they print the completed book as a weekly miniseries. Stores have to order blind, so there is less drop-off in orders. Buzz builds quickly, the trade can be scheduled quickly if need be, and Marvel does not need a big name to sell what would be an OGN.

    Another question: how soon before we see OGNs as e-books?

  13. Is this maybe a cost thing? his work on Superman/Wonder Woman doesn’t bring in enough readers to justify his page rate? So this gives both sides an easy out.

  14. Why is there so much negativity towards JMS??

    What’s he ever done to you??

    If you don’t like his writing or his work, you have the choice not to read it. Nobody’s forcing you.

    If you don’t like any of his ideas, don’t read them. If you don’t like the Earth One initiative, don’t take part. Again, you have the choice.

    You also have the choice to keep your negative comments to yourself, since these don’t help anybody.

    @GoofBall814 — JMS’ main work these days, I think, is in screenplays. He doesn’t just do DC Comics.

  15. “Whoa, tiger. We have no idea how many copies it’s actually sold yet.”

    From ICv2’s Top 300 Graphic Novel charts (sales to comic book shops):

    October 2010
    Superman Earth One v.1 16,260 copies (HC)
    (#1 on its first week on the NY Times bestseller list.)

    Scott Pilgrim v.6 21,305 copies (TP, final volume of popular series, movie tie-in)
    Walking Dead v.12 16,627 (TP, popular series)

    Kick-Ass 10,218 (HC)
    Kick-Ass 7,251 (HC, movie tie-in)
    (Both listings, it was the #1 title of the month. 33 weeks so far on the NY Times GN list.)

    Walking Dead v.11 16,914 (TP)

    So, to summarize… the first volume of an original hardcover graphic novel is selling as well as Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim.

  16. “So, to summarize… the first volume of an original hardcover graphic novel is selling as well as Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim.”

    When do we get figures from proper shops?

  17. @Wesley Smith: “This won’t do anything to help JMS’ reputation within the fan community. (I mean, is there even one project he’s seen to completion since Midnight Nation?)”

    Bullet Points (2007, 5 issues)
    Silver Surfer: Requiem (2007, 4 issues)
    75 issues of Amazing Spider-Man
    …and while he left Thor earlier than planned, his run had a very definitive ending.

  18. I don’t think original graphic novels are the future, they’ve been around since the early 80’s.

    DC first pioneered the OGN back when they did Star Raiders and others, even enlisting sci-fi authors like Ray Bradbury and David Niven. They did some great OGN’s back in the day but even then, the audience for the OGN comes from the people who buy monthly comics.

    Without monthly comics, the audience for the OGN rapidly decreases. The thing is, monthly comics were good at that time, so much so that they caught the attention of the mainstream press as a source for quality material that the OGN gets today.

    In fact, I even remember reading in magazines like Rolling Stone that comics aren’t for kids anymore and that was due to the work being done monthly by Alan Moore (Swamp Thing and Watchmen), Frank Miller (Daredevil and Dark Knight), Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans and scores of others.

    When publishers focus their energies on putting quality back in the monthlies (which begins by getting them out monthly), you’ll see the tide will turn. Because it all revolved around the monthlies: they bring the audience who buys into the ogn.

    Speaking of OGN’s, one that I’m particularly excited about that is coming soon from DC Comics is the long awaited New Teen Titans Games by Wolfman and Perez. George is almost done, on his website he reported he’s down to single digit pages now and I have a feeling that one is going to catch people off guard and be a big success.

    I’m excited for it!

  19. thank the heavens. anything to stop the train wrecks that are superman and wonder woman.
    and i am normally someone who likes his work.

  20. Anyone got BookScan access?
    Anyone know what the initial printing was?

    No listing yet on the USA Today 150, or the Publishers Weekly list.

    Amazon is still out of stock. As is BarnesAndNoble.com . Which means that Random House, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other distributors are sold out as well.

    Most B&N stores have it in stock, but call ahead, they’ll hold a copy for you.

    Has DC announced a second printing yet?

  21. JMS has definitely been spending time writing various screenplays in addition to comics. Plus over the last year or two, he’s been fighting bronchitis/pneumonia that he says he has finally licked. Joe writes every day unless he’s unable to. How he prioritizes what he writes is unknown. But considering the first screenplay he sold (for The Changling) got him “truckload of money”, I would imagine the screenplays take priority.

  22. Brett, monthlies will continue to exist (probably online), and yes, comics fans are a big audience for comics (preaching to the choir, so to speak) but there are many OGNs which disprove your thesis.

    Smile, by Raina Tegelmeier, sold hundreds of thousands of copies, mostly to libraries, bookstores, and book clubs. The initial work was a webcomic, but about half of it was reworked, expanded, and completed in print.

    Stuck Rubber Baby and Blankets are two other examples. Acme Novelty Library is a title which sells primarily outside the comics shop market. (Next time you visit your local comics shop, see how many volumes of Chris Ware they have in stock.) American Born Chinese (and just about everything from the First Second catalog). The Parker adaptations from IDW. Asterios Polyp. Genesis.

    Regular publishing doesn’t serialize fiction much anymore. There are a few markets for short stories, but nothing like the pulp market of the early Twentieth Century. Almost everything published now is original content, and the publishers know how to sell it.

    Lots of comics publishers have gotten out of the periodical market. Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly, for example. Some make a lot more money on the trades than on the periodicals (Bongo).

    The digital storefront is becoming the new newsstand, the place to find the latest issue. Paper comic books might exist as promotional items (Free Comic Book Day, sketch covers, cover gimmicks), but their prominence is diminishing. We’ll know when, when we see the Diamond sales charts showing adults titles selling below 20,000 copies, but not being cancelled because there are other revenue streams to support those titles.

  23. Wow. This is…

    I will not bash JMS.


    Gail Simone was doing a great job on Wonder Woman; the changes done in JMS’s storyline could have been outlined by him but written by Simone to fit in with her writing style and with the momentum she’d built up. She was working hard and building something really cool. Then she graciously moved aside, saying kind words and smiling for the press as she made way for The Man With The Vision…

    Only now The Man With The Vision has seen the future and he’s moving on to greener pastures, leaving behind his notes for The Grand Plan.


    Phil Hester’s a good guy and he’ll do a great job I’m sure, but I wanted Gail Simone to come back and write Wonder Woman again with long pants and a jacket.

    Ah, well…

  24. Martha, I’m actually trying to get some sales figures from other channels. Will let everyone know when I do.

    Torsten’s recounting the ICv2 # is telling though. Those are strong sales any way you slice it.

  25. Not to hog the thread, but I was just reading Back Issue with its cover story on the famous O’Neill/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow series. Superman’s walk across America reminded me of the relevant stories of the 70s. Instead of an old black man yelling at Green Lantern, we had a single mom yelling at the Man of Steel. Our hero then mopes and feels he’s lost touch and decides to travel America to get back in touch with what he’d lost.

    Despite all the acclaim and notice, GL/GA still got canceled because it still didn’t sell enough number to keep it going.

    I don’t know what the number are for copies sold on Superman, but I was curious to see how this experiment worked out. I was waiting for the trade and waiting to see if this would’ve worked out for DC and JMS. I wanted to see what the payoff would’ve been. I was watching to see how it’d be resolved to see how it led to what would come next. Despite my complaints above about Wonder Woman, I was doing the same thing too. Watching and waiting. Where would this lead to? What’s the new status quo going to be?

    Ah, well.

    How disappointing.

    So, will these storylines be quickly cleaned up so we can have a Brand New Day for Wonder Woman and Superman?

  26. I don’t get how the 16k+ units that seem to be verified as having sold to direct market shops is counted as such a strong number. If a six issue Superman mini averaged that many issues sold a month, it’d be an unmitigated disaster. It’s being compared to titles like Walking Dead (which was monetized in single issues first, costs less to produce & has demonstrated long tail) and Scott Pilgrim (costs less to produce & has demonstrated long tail).

    I never thought I’d see the day that a Superman book pushing fewer units than Scott Pilgrim would be raved about as such an unqualified success. Don’t get me wrong. I really hope it is all that some are exclaiming it to be AND MORE. But, wow, do I think people are jumping the gun.

  27. JMS and DC Comics…yet more excuses and excuses. No wonder people are still walking away from their former comics buying habits.

  28. Comics shops order books on a non-returnable basis. So they are extra-careful when ordering a $20 hardcover original graphic novel with no previous sales history and no media tie-in. From various reports, many comics shops sold out, Diamond sold out of their stock. We’ll see what the November sales indicate.

    Go scan the ICv2 GN charts. Most books don’t crack 10K in a month.

    Also, book distributors have sold out as well. >>>One week after the book went on sale!<<< That is a success for ANY publisher.

  29. I read the CBR interview and want to post here since the Beat article has its comments turned off.

    JMS presents sound arguments. It makes perfect sense. It sounds like something that would happen in the real world. I believe him. I’m glad the OGN sold as well as it did. I’m glad they’re excited about this new format and this new series direction. That’s fine. I get it.

    But it still looks bad.

    I’m not a business or marketing person by any stretch of the imagination. But, I feel that there’s some cardinal rules of brand loyalty that are being ignored or seriously broken or damaged by this.

    Maybe I’m over-reacting. I don’t know. Whatever.

    Let them do what they want…

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